I’ve been saying it for a while and now apparently some leading scientists agree with me, according to the Times Online:
SOME of Britain’s leading scientists have accused the BBC of “quackery” by misleading viewers in an attempt to exaggerate the power of alternative medicine.
The criticisms centre on Alternative Medicine, a series broadcast on BBC2 in January, in which some of the most memorable scenes included open-heart surgery apparently carried out using acupuncture as an anaesthetic.
In another episode, brain images of patients undergoing acupuncture were claimed to show that the procedure had an effect on the parts of the brain that experience pain.
This weekend scientists turned on the programme’s (sic) accusing them of distorting science in an attempt to present an unjustifiably positive image of complementary therapies. “They are peddling quack science,” said David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London.
The most serious accusation concerns the BBC’s presentation of the anaesthetic powers of acupuncture. A heart patient underwent surgery in a Chinese hospital with a number of acupuncture needles stuck into her body.
Critics say that the needles could be credited with little real effect because the patient was also receiving three powerful conventional sedatives — midazolam, droperidol and fentanyl — along with large volumes of local anaesthetic injected into her chest.
They’re obviously referring to the so-called acupuncture anesthesia operation I commented on before. Although perhaps they also read one of the other acupuncture articles I also commented on. Each of those articles seemed to imply that acupuncture worked, although the studies they were commenting on clearly showed no such thing.
I don’t know why the BBC feels the need to pander to popularity in this way – it’s certainly not in its Royal Charter (but then again the Royals are quacks too, so perhaps it’s not surprising). If I still lived in the UK, and still had to pay the TV licence fee, I might be tempted to email a complaint. If I felt in the mood.